Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

14 November 2012 – Most of us expect Brazil to crown the F1 World Champion for the first time since 2009, but Texas could storm back onto the scene with a title-clinching moment for Sebastian Vettel. If he wins Sunday’s United States Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso fifth or lower, the crown heads to Heppenheim for a third successive year…

Red Bull has already failed to clinch the constructors’ title at the first possible point, in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago. Having said that, it was just about the only thing Red Bull have failed to do lately. The chances are now extremely low that they will not wrap up that honour this weekend, which in my opinion should be viewed as a major displeasure for McLaren; this really was their finest chance to take the spoils for the first time since 1998. For one reason or another, they’ve blown it.

Two to go: Vettel VS Alonso
The drivers’ battle is less clear cut, but facts are facts. One fact is that only Vettel or Alonso can now win this championship. That also means that whoever wins becomes a triple Formula 1 World Champion. Another is, if it is to be Alonso, Brazil is the only place where it can happen for him – just as it did back in 2005 and 2006. On the contrary, Vettel would have collected his titles in a trio of very different countries.

Vettel has a ten-point advantage after his equally superlative drive of Abu Dhabi. Many argue it was only because of the Safety Cars. Yes, they certainly helped, but let us not forget that he was again at the back of the field at the first restart. So really the second Safety Car was the big help and the first was effectively null and void. As for Alonso, just how many times will that man leave us astounded this season? He has to be my driver of the year, but the Red Bull RB8 is dominant when it comes to the car.

Don’t be fooled by the ten-point margin. You score that amount for a fifth place finish, so that translates to just two or four points under the previous two scoring systems which were replaced after the 2002 and 2009 campaigns. There’s nothing in it. To remind you, the current system is: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
With that in mind, here is how Vettel can claim Germany’s tenth F1 title in Texas:
- By winning the race with Alonso fifth or lower
- By finishing second with Alonso ninth or lower
- By finishing third with Alonso 11th or lower
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, to retain even the slightest of chances heading to Brazil, Alonso must score a point if Vettel is to finish third in America - and he must finish eighth if Vettel is to come home second. If Vettel wins the race, which one would imagine is quite possible, then Alonso has to be fourth or better to keep his chances alive – and, even then, things would still be extremely difficult a week later.

For the reasons explained above, it is my personal belief that this title really is now Vettel’s to lose. Furthermore, I have said all season long that the rest of the pack have been on borrowed time while Red Bull made up for the loss of the exhaust-blown diffuser which allowed Vettel to dominate last year. McLaren have made too many mistakes and suffered from unreliability. Mercedes steered in the wrong direction with Super DRS and had an even greater lack of reliability. Lotus threatened mid-season but, ultimately, their ‘device’ proved too sensitive to make the most of at all circuits. As for Ferrari…well, the honest truth is that – although Alonso has driven better than ever, and indeed better than anybody for many years – the car was, quite simply, never quick enough. It certainly looked promising over the European summer but, with the glorious benefit of hindsight, his British and German pole positions only came because of adverse weather conditions.

All is not lost for Alonso, though. Anything really can still happen – just look at the final moments of 1964, 1986, 2007 and 2008 to name just four. Rain could affect proceedings (especially in Brazil), Vettel could lose a front wing up against a back-marker or perhaps Red Bull will fumble a pit-stop. These things might not happen too often, but they do happen and for those reasons Alonso must be in position to take advantage. If these things do not occur and the weather remains dry, you should probably expect Vettel pole positions and two clean drives to victory. The Ferrari may only qualify fifth, sixth or seventh and that always leaves a driver in the danger zone at the start…you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out and just look at what happened in Japan. On top of this, Red Bull was testing in Abu Dhabi last week whereas Ferrari elected to have their Young Driver run earlier in the year; you would therefore expect the pace deficit to be even bigger, if the updates work as planned.

So, in short, we can’t predict exactly how Vettel might win his third World Championship but – taking all things into account – the odds are certainly in his favour. At the start of 2012 I predicted that Lewis Hamilton would be the only man who could beat Sebastian Vettel this season. Hands up – I got that wrong. But what was right is the fact that Vettel, Adrian Newey and Red Bull have by far the best handle on the current set of Technical Regulations. It will be difficult for Alonso…

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The facts: Circuit of the Americas
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laps 56

Direction Anti-clockwise

Corners 20

Length 5.516 km / 3.427 mi

Local start time 1pm (GMT -6)

Slick Pirelli tyre compounds
Hard (silver markings) & Medium (white markings)

DRS zone
Back straight, between Turns 11 and 12
- Activation to be approximately 650 metres before Turn 12

FIA driver steward
Emerson Fittipaldi
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Sunday 4 December 2016

  2. Video of the Day: Lorenzo opens museum 05:26

    Video of the Day: Lorenzo opens museum

    MotoGP star Jorge Lorenzo's opens his new museum, 'World Champions by 99', in Andorra.

    MotoGP
  3. Saturday 3 December 2016

  4. 18:34

    Gallery: Mercedes' Sindelfingen event

    F1
  5. Rosberg would have stayed if he lost title 14:46

    Rosberg would have stayed if he lost title

    World Champion Nico Rosberg says he would have stayed in Formula 1 for another season had he not beaten Mercedes team-mate Lewis…

    F1
  6. F1 paddock pays tribute to retiring Rosberg 13:06

    F1 paddock pays tribute to retiring Rosberg

    Formula 1 drivers, paddock members and the wider motorsport world have been paying tribute to Nico Rosberg, following his shock…

    F1
  7. 11:44

    Gallery: FIA Prize-Giving Gala in Vienna

    F1
  8. Hamilton: Rosberg retirement 'not a surprise' 10:32

    Hamilton: Rosberg retirement 'not a surprise'

    Lewis Hamilton says Nico Rosberg's decision to retire was "not a surprise", despite the newly-crowned World Champion stunning…

    F1
  9. Verstappen receives two FIA Gala awards 09:17

    Verstappen receives two FIA Gala awards

    Red Bull youngster Max Verstappen has been handed two awards at the FIA's Prize-Giving Gala, held at Vienna's Hofburg…

    F1
  10. Video: Rosberg collects Formula 1 trophy 09:13

    Video: Rosberg collects Formula 1 trophy

    The retiring Nico Rosberg receives his World Championship trophy during the FIA's annual Prize-Giving Gala.

    F1
  11. Rosberg crowned World Champion at Gala 09:08

    Rosberg crowned World Champion at Gala

    The retiring Nico Rosberg has been officially crowned as the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion during the FIA's annual Prize-Giving…

    F1
  12. In photos: Rosberg's final F1 race day 08:32

    In photos: Rosberg's final F1 race day

    Nico Rosberg announced on Friday that he will be retiring from Formula 1 as World Champion. GPUpdate.net flicks through…

    F1
  13. Video of the Day: Ferrari's 'Flying Aces' 05:28

    Video of the Day: Ferrari's 'Flying Aces'

    Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen experienced the world's tallest loop rollercoaster at Ferrari World in Abu…

    F1
  14. Friday 2 December 2016

  15. Sato joins Andretti Autosport for 2017 20:05

    Sato joins Andretti Autosport for 2017

    Takuma Sato will make the switch to Andretti Autosport for 2017, completing the team's four-car line-up. Sato, 39, has raced…

    Indy
  16. 18:02

    New: Follow GPUpdate on Instagram!

    F1
  17. Latifi on top as GP2 post-season test ends 17:56

    Latifi on top as GP2 post-season test ends

    DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi set the pace as GP2's end-of-season test reached its conclusion at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit on…

    GP2
  18. Overview: Candidates to replace Rosberg 15:08

    Overview: Candidates to replace Rosberg

    Following the shock news that Nico Rosberg will retire from Formula 1 with immediate effect, GPUpdate.net looks at the potential…

    F1
  19. Video: Rosberg on his decision to retire 14:02

    Video: Rosberg on his decision to retire

    Nico Rosberg explains why he has decided to retire from Formula 1 after winning the world title.

    F1
  20. Mercedes will 'take time' over replacement 13:47

    Mercedes will 'take time' over replacement

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the manufacturer will "take time" in deciding who will replace Nico Rosberg, who has announced his…

    F1
  21. Wolff applauds 'brave' Rosberg decision 13:45

    Wolff applauds 'brave' Rosberg decision

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has applauded Nico Rosberg's "brave decision" to retire from Formula 1 as World Champion, following a…

    F1
  22. Rosberg retires from F1 as champion 13:20

    Rosberg retires from F1 as champion

    Nico Rosberg has announced that he is to retire from Formula 1, just a few days after beating Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton…

    F1
  23. Video: Nico Rosberg celebrates in Brackley 13:12

    Video: Nico Rosberg celebrates in Brackley

    Nico Rosberg celebrates his maiden Formula 1 title win at Mercedes' headquarters in Brackley.

    F1
  24. Ecclestone confirms French GP reports 11:58

    Ecclestone confirms French GP reports

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has confirmed recent reports that the French Grand Prix is poised to return to the calendar…

    F1
  25. Magnussen 'learned a lot' over Renault stint 10:32

    Magnussen 'learned a lot' over Renault stint

    Kevin Magnussen says he "learned a lot" from Renault over the course of the 2017 season, as he prepares to embark on the next…

    F1
  26. Rosberg visits Mercedes factory in Brackley 09:21

    Rosberg visits Mercedes factory in Brackley

    Nico Rosberg appeared at Mercedes' headquarters in Brackley on Thursday, as part of a packed celebration schedule after…

    F1
  27. 'French GP to return at Paul Ricard in 2018' 09:05

    'French GP to return at Paul Ricard in 2018'

    France could make a surprise return to the Formula 1 calendar at Paul Ricard from the 2018 campaign, in a five-year agreement…

    F1
  28. Marko: Patience Verstappen's only weakness 07:34

    Marko: Patience Verstappen's only weakness

    Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko reckons Max Verstappen's only remaining weakness is an occasional lack of patience…

    F1
  29. Video of the Day: Rosberg opens up on 2016 05:38

    Video of the Day: Rosberg opens up on 2016

    Nico Rosberg opens up on a demanding 2016 season, which resulted in his maiden championship win.

    F1
  30. Thursday 1 December 2016

  31. 17:02

    Photos: Rosberg visits Mercedes factory

    F1
  32. Albon fastest on second Yas Marina test day 16:08

    Albon fastest on second Yas Marina test day

    Alexander Albon topped the times for ART Grand Prix on the second day of GP2's end-of-season test at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina…

    GP2
  33. F1 stewards aim for 'better consistency' 15:32

    F1 stewards aim for 'better consistency'

    Formula 1 stewards are looking at holding regular de-brief meetings to review Grands Prix in an attempt to achieve "better…

    F1
  34. ExxonMobil becomes Red Bull fuel partner 14:14

    ExxonMobil becomes Red Bull fuel partner

    Red Bull has announced ExxonMobil as its new fuel, lubricant and motor oil partner for the 2017 season, replacing Total, which…

    F1
  35. Video: Toto Wolff on Mercedes' season 13:16

    Video: Toto Wolff on Mercedes' season

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff discusses the manufacturer's continued Formula 1 success in 2016, the tense showdown between Nico…

    F1
  36. Wolff: Malaysia failure cost Hamilton title 11:12

    Wolff: Malaysia failure cost Hamilton title

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has conceded that Lewis Hamilton's engine failure at the Malaysian Grand Prix, while on course for…

    F1
  37. Stroll relieved Canadian GP is secured 10:12

    Stroll relieved Canadian GP is secured

    Lance Stroll says that it will be "a dream come true" to take part in his home Grand Prix in Canada next season, after the event…

    F1
  38. Evans calls time on GP2 after four seasons 09:04

    Evans calls time on GP2 after four seasons

    New Zealander Mitch Evans has called time on his GP2 Series career after four seasons, in order to fully focus on his new…

    GP2
  39. European F3 set to return to Britain in 2017 09:02

    European F3 set to return to Britain in 2017

    Britain is set to reclaim a season-opening slot on the 2017 European Formula 3 calendar. European Formula 3 last visited the…

    F3
  40. Rosberg: Hamilton 'one of the best ever' 07:26

    Rosberg: Hamilton 'one of the best ever'

    Nico Rosberg has paid tribute to Lewis Hamilton, describing him as "one of the best ever" drivers in Formula 1 history, after…

    F1
  41. Video of the Day: Rosberg's title celebrations 05:42

    Video of the Day: Rosberg's title celebrations

    Nico Rosberg celebrated his maiden title win with Mercedes partner Petronas in Malaysia this week.

    F1
  42. Wednesday 30 November 2016

  43. 18:02

    Overview: Formula 1's confirmed 2017 roster

    F1
  44. FIA announces revised 20-race F1 calendar 17:42

    FIA announces revised 20-race F1 calendar

    Formula 1's governing body, the FIA, has presented a revised 20-race calendar for the 2017 season, with the German Grand Prix…

    F1
  45. Marciello tops first day of post-season test 16:26

    Marciello tops first day of post-season test

    Raffaele Marciello topped the first day of GP2's post-season test at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit, driving for former team…

    GP2
more news